A second nuclear power plant in Nebraska is being threatened by rising floodwaters, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a federal watchdog agency, says the plant’s owners are taking the appropriate steps to ward off danger, according to a report in the Omaha World-Herald.The Cooper Power Station would have to go into cold shutdown should floodwaters rise an additional six feet, a prospect local officials say is highly unlikely.
The Cooper plant is located 70 miles south of Omaha. The other nuclear plant at risk of flooding, the Fort Calhoun power station, is just north of Omaha.
Officials say a key difference between the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and the two plants in Nebraska is that the Japanese plant had only an hour after the devastating March earthquake to prepare for floods. The Nebraska plants have had weeks to prepare flood defenses.
“That’s not enough time to relocate a nuclear plant to higher ground or jack it up on stilts,” a nuclear scientist told the Omaha World-Herald, “but it is plenty of time to check to ensure that watertight doors are intact, backup power supplies are available and functional, fuel oil tanks are topped off, etc.”
At Fort Calhoun, the plant’s owner, the Omaha Public Power District, has erected flood barriers to protect the plant should waters rise to 1010″-1012″. The cooling pool for spent fuel rods is at 1,038.5″. The river was measured earlier this week at 1005.6″.
Elizabeth Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, told the Omaha World-Herald that the flight bans over the two nuclear plants are meant to avoid collisions between aircraft drawn to the scene by curiosity.
“When you keep the area above the ground safe, you’re going to keep the people on the ground safe, too,” Cory said.
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